Bringing nature into our living spaces is the best antidote for the ills of our urban lives. Wellness- minded interior design helps us discover ourselves
BY MALATI K. VIJAY
Maybe the term ‘nature-inspired design’ is a misnomer. Writers, artists, architects and designers have always used nature as a muse. The natural world is an infinite, evergreen mood board from where we can pick the perfect combinations of colours, textures, patterns, shapes and sensory cues. It never ceases to stir our imagination, and it never fails to extend its healing hand towards anybody who turns to it for succour.
This explains why nature-inspired design never really goes out of fashion.
When the going is good, man has a penchant for drifting away into his self- made, artificial world. At the height of technological advancement and modern innovations in the past decades, we have got caught amid concrete jungles, thereby distancing ourselves from our original habitat, only to be disenchanted and to yearn for it. This only goes to show that our connection with nature is a primeval one and is unbreakable.
“Human beings are inherently biophilic. Nature represents a state of egolessness, and in embracing it, we feel calm and relaxed. Architecture and design have the potential to bridge the gap between human beings and nature. By changing the way our buildings and spaces are designed, we can reclaim our lost bond with nature,” says New Delhi-based architect Aparna Kaushik, known for nestling the sprawling luxury
farmhouses she builds amid lush greenery.
Being in the lap of nature has been proven to be the best antidote for the ills of our urban lives. Witness the exodus of city dwellers to natural retreats for a spell of fresh air and calming greenery during weekends. This, of course, came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the pandemic, encouraging people to surround themselves with organic design elements. Not only is nature-inspired design good for de-stressing and boosting mood, it also underlines our need to live in harmony with nature — an exigency, as we inch towards a climate emergency. Such environments offer a sustained interaction with the natural world, creating a sense of well-being.
During the pandemic, when we were missing the outdoors, the cottage core aesthetic with its promise of an organic and relaxed design style brought solace to many across the world. With people exchanging notes on social media on decorating their homes with plants and organic materials, nature-inspired design has now turned into a movement.
Let the sunlight in
Nothing can match the revitalising energy sunlight brings. Not only does it brighten interiors, and create an airy and expansive feeling, it also stimulates the ‘happy hormone’, serotonin, in the human body. “Design that is in consonance with nature ensures that it brings in enough sunlight and ventilation into the building. This helps cut down the use of electricity, making the space more sustainable,” says Kaushik. By installing mirrors strategically, and replacing walls with glass partitions, you can direct more sunlight into your interiors.
Play with organic elements
Spaces done up using natural materials tend to have an inherently soothing effect on the mind. Wood, stones, natural textiles, plants and foliage… they are instant reminders of our bond with our habitat. “Organic elements help create character- filled sanctuaries that are a far cry from the hubbub of city life, and immediately reconnect you with nature,” says interior designer Saba Kapoor of Nivasa. Her own home in Gurugram is composed of natural wood and earthy materials for the flooring, furniture, and also for the intricate details, evoking a raw yet refined mood. “We feel strongly about indigenous materials and local workmanship, so the overarching theme was sustainability. Sunlight pours in from all sides, and the large windows offer sweeping views of the verdant expanse outside,” she says.
Bring in nature’s imprints
Home décor is not complete until it connects you back to your natural habitat. Colours, textures, motifs and shapes borrowed from nature help you achieve this. Curved furniture, botanicals, tropical patterns evoke the same feeling as being amid nature. You can even use the colour green in your space to help calm the mind and create a feeling of equilibrium. “Vibrant colours, floral and leaf motifs bring the joy of nature into our homes. Combine these with natural materials, hand-crafted elements and lush house plants, and you have a very refreshing environment,” says Suparna Handa, managing director, Sarita Handa. Their store in Delhi is a good example of nature- inspired design.
Enjoy an indoor- outdoor lifestyle
One more way to bring nature closer home is to enjoy the outdoor spaces attached to homes. Spruce up your terrace, patio, balcony and garden space with greenery and comfortable seating. You can even enclose a terrace space with glass to create a climate-controlled spot that can be used irrespective of the season, like this terrace space in a Kolkata apartment designed by Ajay Arya of A Square Designs. “The glass
house connects the home with its green exteriors. The place is perfect for lazy afternoon tea, or for a relaxed party time with friends and family under the starry sky,” he says.
Decorate with plants
We don’t need to underline the many benefits of decorating with plants. They infuse the spaces with a sumptuous feeling, a positive energy, and purify the air too. “House plants accentuate the feeling of the outdoors becoming a part of the indoors,” says Kapoor. Whether you want to decorate with the minimalistic kokedamas or ornamental miniature plants, bold Decorate with plants sculptural ones or just mix it all up in jungle- esque flair, the pop of green never fails to impress. If space is a constraint, you can stack them up on the wall or hang them from the ceiling. By picking up low- maintenance indoor plants, you can have a flourishing green patch within your home. Don’t hesitate to take them into every part of the home. A herb garden in the kitchen, a living wall made of moss in the bathroom, are transformational. “Greenery in a space helps you infuse a subconscious sense of serenity. From a live moss wall to potted plants to stacked planters to an artwork depicting lush greenery, we have used them all in our bathroom designs,” say Priyanka Khanna and Rudraksh Charan of 42mm Architecture
The writer is a Bengaluru-based freelance journalist and content consultant. Formerly with the Times of India, Economic Times and Livingetc
India, she writes primarily on design, art and lifestyle. She also enjoys giving a healthy twist to various cuisines.
@malati03 @aparnakaushikofficial @sabaxkapoor @nivasa_home @saritahanda